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Germany’s new parliament announces plans to protect rights to encryption

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Germany’s new coalition government will seemingly be pro-encryption and support other policies digital rights advocates have asked for years, including the right to anonymity. The previous government, led by Angela Merkel, supported more surveillance.

Privacy is a protected right under the German constitution. However, in an effort to fight crime, law enforcement agencies have undermined that right by fighting to access otherwise private data.

The previous German government, which was led by conservatives, joined other European nations in calling for a “legal access to encrypted data.” In 2020, the German-led European Council approved a resolution titled “Security through encryption and security despite encryption.” The resolution does not outlaw encryption but supports the use of backdoors for the purpose of law enforcement.

However, the recently elected parliament supports encryption.

The coalition agreement contained a lot of policies that satisfied the expectations of digital rights advocates. The coalition has promised a right to encryption and a right to anonymity. It has also promised to increase IT security and fund public code.

The coalition agreement promises a right to encryption and says state authorities will not be allowed to keep backdoors (vulnerabilities) secret. Espionage and intelligence agencies use backdoors to monitor potential criminals.

The contract states: “We require all government agencies to report security vulnerabilities they are aware of to the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) and to undergo regular external audits of their IT systems.”

On strengthening IT security, the document states: “We will strengthen digital civil rights and IT security. It is the state’s duty to guarantee them”.

The agreement promises to respect anonymity:

In line with a recent ruling by the European Parliament, the coalition contract prohibits the use of biometric recognition systems in public spaces.

Additionally, future laws on security will be evaluated by a panel of independent experts.

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